TelomerAge - Telomere Measurement
The length of our telomeres is the closest we have come to identifying the “molecular clock” of the human body. Telomeres are protective caps on each end of our chromosomes that protect the chromosomes from being mistaken for damaged DNA. Made up of thousands of repetitions of the same DNA sequence, the telomeres shorten slightly every time the cell divides. Ultimately, the telomeres reach a certain length and the cell is no longer able to divide or function, causing the production of detrimental inflammatory molecules. In essence, the clock stops ticking.
Lymphocytes are a subset of the white blood cells found in the human body. It is the cell type whose telomeres have most commonly been studied. The shortening of lymphocyte telomeres has been strongly linked to the aging process, along with smoking, cardiovascular disease, various cancers, and even psychological stress. Given these established correlations, making an effort to maintain good general health, at the very least, may help slow or minimize the shortening of telomeres. Growing research also shows that certain medicines may be able to extend the lengths of telomeres and reverse damage that may have been done to the cell DNA.
Naturally, this begs the question: Will this have anti-aging benefits in the way we look and feel? If that it is indeed the case, one might jump to the conclusion that the telomeres are the answer to the long-coveted 'fountain of youth.' But unfortunately, telomeres are not entirely understood and the theory behind telomere aging remains widely debated. What is certain, however, is that telomeres are an interesting factor that offers important clues about why and how we age. Thus, the prospect of reversing aging by minimizing the shortening of telomere holds great promise in the field of anti-aging medicine.
Because the practice of telomere shortening is somewhat controversial and the consequences of telomere treatment not fully understood, we do not include telomere treatment in our standard health assessment's blood workup. For an extra fee, however, we offer the test to interested patients, given our belief that knowing one’s “TelomerAge” can offer invaluable insight into your aging process and suggest effective ways for managing your overall health.
The promising information on telomeres may also inspire you to ask, "If telomere length is such a great biomarker of aging and disease, why do we even bother with all the other tests?" While the same thought has crossed our minds, we discovered that aging is best understood when you are able to analyze multiple biomarkers. Although telomere length strongly correlates with age, the combination of biomarkers - including one’s TelomerAge - correlates even better at r2 0.8 versus 0.5. This confirms the idea that a combination of biomarkers of important physiological systems is essential.